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Gadgets Reviews Smartphones

FlexShock protection for the Galaxy S6

Two years ago I reviewed Tech21’s Impact Mesh case for the Galaxy S4 Mini. Tech21 are now using a new material called FlexShock, so having recently started using a Galaxy S6, I thought it would be appropriate to review Tech21’s latest Evo Check case for Samsung’s Galaxy S6.

Tech21 Evo Check Case

Protection
The main reason I use a case is to protect my device. Primarily from knocks and drops, but also from scratches, dirt and dust. The size of the S6 means that depending upon what you’re wearing, it wont always fit snugly in your pocket. This inevitably means that every so often it will fall out, at which point I will usually scrabble and scramble to try and catch it, but if I’m unsuccessful, I need to know the phone will be safe.

The S6, with its Gorilla Glass and aluminium casing, seems to be pretty resilient by itself. It would appear you can use an S6 to crack walnuts open with no ill effects, and this drop test video demonstrates the S6 (Edge) is a pretty tough cookie. WARNING: for S6 owners, this is a heart-in-mouth kind of video!

So how much protection does Tech21’s case provide? Well the answer is quite a lot. The case has a slight lip on the front meaning that even if dropped face down on a flat surface, neither the screen nor the home button would touch the ground – the case would absorb the impact.

My main concern when I first looked at the S6 was that the rear camera protrudes, meaning that it would be the first thing to contact during an impact. The case has a slightly raised rim around the camera, meaning that the camera is now recessed by about 0.5mm – giving it some much needed protection.

Tech21 have ditched the D3O which they had previously been famous for using, in favour of FlexShock. This new material they claim does the same job as D3O – absorbing the impact – whilst it can be moulded into better shock absorbing shapes and it can be dyed different colours. FlexShock seems just as hardy as D3O – but with added flexibility and customisation.

Design

Galaxy S6 FlexShock caseI really like the metal and glass construct of the Galaxy S6, so for me it’s not about getting a snazzy case to conceal an ugly phone. The Evo Case is very minimalistic and whilst it does cover five sides of the phone (the top, both sides, the bottom and the back) it still gives the S6 a little room to showcase its looks. The beauty of FlexShock is that it can be styled in different colours. As such, I’ve gone for a smooth white, to match my white S6. It is obvious that I am using a case, and I have lost that plush glass feeling but as cases go, aesthetically the Evo Check does a pretty good job.

A good case has to give clean access to all the phone’s ports and sensors. The Evo Check case does this well, there is ample room around the speaker, power port, lower microphone and the headphone socket. On the top the infrared sensor and higher microphone are also able to operate without interference. The camera has plenty of room around it, as does the flash, and you can use the heart rate monitor without removing the phone from the case. You do have to remove the phone to get to the SIM-card socket, but who does that on a regular basis anyway?

White Tech21 S6 caseThe buttons (volume up/down and power) are covered, and to activate them you do need to press them firmly. I personally like this, as it gives the phone a quality feel and it prevents you from accidentally pressing them too. That said, (from watching endless YouTube reviews) I do know that some users would prefer the buttons to be uncovered, and dislike having to push them hard to get anything to happen.

Price

The Evo Check case is currently priced around £30, which is fairly mid-range (cheaper than many of Samsung’s own cases) considering (in terms of protection) it is a pretty high end product.

Rating

I’m a big fan of Tech21’s Evo Check case for the Galaxy S6. It covers the phone well, without obstructing any of the ports or sensors. It also looks great, even if it doesn’t feel as good as metal and glass.

Four and a Half StarThe protection it offers is hard to rival, especially amongst cases with a similar price tags, so I’m rating the Evo Case with FlexShock protection 4 and a half stars.

Our thanks to Mobile Fun – the mobile accessories experts – for providing the case for this review. If you want to find out more or buy one of your own, check out Tech21’s S6 case on their website.

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Gadgets Reviews Series Smartphones

Concluding a series on the S4 Mini

This is the conclusion article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Here we are at the end of another series. This was my most inconsistent series, which I should have ended in October, but here I am in January 2014 finishing it off!

In the first article I introduced my new purchase and started the series. I am still (very) glad I chose Android over Apple and a Samsung Galaxy over other rivals. I really like the (in the words of David) Disney layer Samsung add, having compared it to various other Android devices, not running the Samsung version of the OS.

D3O case for the S4 MiniWhilst I do like the S4 Mini, is hasn’t been an easy ride. Before I got my D3O case and Tech21 screen protector, I dropped my phone. The screen hit something and it bounced to the floor. This completely ruined the screen. I took it in for repair and £100 later I had my phone back.

Note to self: always get a really good case, as the cost of that is way less than the cost of a repair. Oh and try not to drop your phone.

A few weeks later my battery started playing up. It wouldn’t hold charge and depleted very quickly. I wasn’t sure if this was related to the earlier drop or not, but I took it back to the shop I bought it from and they said that as it was still within warranty (Samsung give a two year warranty) they would take a look and repair it for me. A few days later I got my phone back (again) and since then nothing has gone wrong.

I recently dropped it again (by accident) outside. It landed on the pavement and bounced to the ground. Luckily the D3O did its work and my phone is still perfectly fine.

Anker S4 Mini Screen ProtectorIn terms of screen protectors I would say the Anker one was much better than the Muvit alternative, however since that post I have purchased a Tech21 Impactology screen protector and I would rate this the best yet. It cost £20 which is five times the cost of the Anker one and I don’t think it is really that much better. Clarity, responsiveness and adhesion are pretty much the same, it’s only the level of protection that I think is probably a little better. Check out this video for more.

My final article reviewed the RoadWarrior car holder for my S4 Mini. Depending upon the car it can be awkward to place, and I am worried it might damage my phone (if I am not really careful when inserting/removing it) but the FM transmitter and spare USB port are great features that I value.

Overall I enjoy using my S4 Mini. It is a good little phone with great capabilities. The battery life could be improved and the OS could be made a little sleeker/easier to use in some places, but on the whole it is a very good handset to buy; it’s more affordable than it’s bigger brother – the S4 – whilst offering a similar experience, from a more conveniently sized device.

Four and a Half StarI think the S4 Mini is worthy of a 4.5 star rating. 🙂

Categories
Gadgets Reviews Series Smartphones

Tech21 Impact Mesh Case Review

This is the fifth article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

In the second article of this series I claimed I would be reviewing Tech21’s case next week. I changed my plans several times, however finally, today it is going to be reviewed!

I am going to rate this case against the same criteria that I rated the FlexiShield case, so it is easy to make a comparison.

Tech21 S4 Mini Case Review

Price

Tech21’s case currently costs around £25, which is about £15 more than the FlexiShield one. The FlexiShield case was very competitively priced, however I do feel that the Tech21 one is worth the extra expense.

Design

Like the FlexiShield case, the Tech21 case is also reasonably flexible. My S4 Mini fits perfectly into the case, and unlike the FlexiShield case, all the ports and sensors are pretty much perfectly aligned. Furthermore the depth of the case means that if it is resting on its back, the camera isn’t touching the ground.

I really like how this case has two buttons for volume, as one thing that annoyed me with the FlexiShield case was that it was all one button, so you were never sure which button  you were pressing!

D3O diagram
How D3O molecules react under pressure.

Unlike any other case on the market, the Tech21 Impact Mesh case has D3O embedded into the design. D3O is an ‘intelligent’ (or smart) material which is pliable and malleable, however when put under stress, the molecules interlock and it becomes rock solid – absorbing the impact.

The case certainly works, as I have dropped and banged my phone several times, yet it still works and there isn’t a scratch in sight! To see a D3O case put to the test check out this video.

I haven’t noticed my phone getting as hot in this case either, although it does appear to lack ventilation, like the FlexiShield alternative.

Aesthetically, I think my phone looks really good in the case. It is stylish and sleek, and I think it actually makes the phone look better.

Impact Mesh Vs Impact Maze

Tech21 make two very similar versions of this case for the S4 Mini, the Impact Mesh Case and the Impact Maze Case. The only real difference is that the Mesh has dots on the back and the Maze has lines. I personally prefer the dots, hence why I went for the Impact Mesh.

Protection

As mentioned above, Tech21’s case offers great protection thanks to the D3O. Like the FlexiShield, this case has a lip which means if you put the phone screen down, the screen doesn’t touch the ground.

D3O case for the S4 MiniAs you would expect, the case protects the phone from superficial dirt and smears, and is easy to wipe clean.

The D3O protects my phone from pretty much every angle.

Rating

The Tech21 Impact Mesh Case is stylish and offers my S4 Mini great protection, it is priced higher up the range than the FlexiShield, however, I feel the design quality justifies this.

Overall I rate Tech21’s Impact Mesh Case 4.5 star. Four and a Half Star

I would like to thank Mobile Fun who provided the case for this review.

Next Time

Next time I will be reviewing a car holder for the S4 Mini.

Categories
Gadgets Reviews Series Smartphones

Reviewing Mobile Fun’s FlexiShield case for the S4 Mini

This is the second article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

In this article I will be looking at a FlexiShield case for the Galaxy S4 Mini.

Which Case?

If you browse Mobile Fun’s site, you will see they have a huge range of cases for the S4 Mini, (at the time of writing, they had around 80) so choosing the right case can be a challenge. Different cases have different purposes, so in order to get the right case for you, you need to decide what you want to use it for.

Here are some of the different functions you might want from a case:

  • Protection – probably number one for most people
  • Design – a stylish case can add to the phones aesthetic appeal
  • Storage – some wallet style cases also allow you to store credit cards in the cover
  • Functionality – the Samsung official case lets you access some functions through the window in the screen cover, whilst saving power by not keeping the whole screen on

I want a case which protects my phone and also looks good. Protection is my top priority, as I don’t want to damage my phone, although if I can make it look better in the process, that’s a bonus.

Mobile Fun’s FlexiShield Case Review

The first of the two cases I have chosen to review is Mobile Fun’s own brand FlexiShield case.

Mobile Fun: Galaxy S4 Mini FlexiShield CaseI am going to be honest, I didn’t have high expectations of the FlexiShield case, as I had looked at reviews of a similar case for the S4 Mini’s big brother, (the S4) and they weren’t very positive. This meant that when I received the case and discovered how great it was, I was pleasantly surprised! 🙂

Price

One of the reasons for my initial doubt was the price. The case currently costs less than £10, which is one of the cheapest S4 Mini cases on the market. Samsung’s Official case (which offers very little protection in comparison) costs around £18, so in terms of protection, the FlexiShield one is very competitively priced.

Design

S4 Mini FlexiShield Case chargingThe FlexiShield case is surprisingly durable, as you would expect from the name, the case is quite flexible, yet when it is fitted on the phone it is very strong. The case fits the phone perfectly, and leaves all the vital ports and sensors accessible. The top ports are all perfectly aligned, however access to the camera and bottom microphone, whilst still accessible is slightly off-centre, which looks a little untidy.

My phone is the white version, so I chose the ‘Frost White’ version of the case, and it looks great! The phone is still visible, as the case is semi-transparent.

The power and volume buttons are covered by the case, so all you have to do to access them is push on the side of the case. Similar cases have recesses where the buttons are, making them hard to press, however this is not an issue with the FlexiShield for the S4 Mini.

At times my phone does appear to be overheating when in the case, however this is usually only when it isn’t in a well ventilated area. The phone is fine when I have it in my pocket, just don’t go and wrap it in a blanket!

Sometimes when GPS and mobile data are on and the phone is trying to process something (like mapping) I do notice the back getting hot, so I usually remove it from the case.

Protection
Whilst the FlexiShield can’t offer the same protection that a D3O case can, it does offer a reasonably high level. When fitted on the phone, the case covers all of the back and sides and has a lip which is elevated over the top of the phone, meaning that no matter how the phone falls (proving it is falling onto a flat surface, not a spike or something!) the case will take the impact, not the device itself.

Mobile Fun's Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini FlexiShield CaseRather by accident, I tested the true protection of the case by throwing my phone about a meter across the room, where it came to land on the floor. The thud when it hit the ground wasn’t reassuring, however the case had absorbed the impact, meaning my phone was intact. I wouldn’t advise you thrown it at the floor, however if you do drop/throw it, the case will provide some protection.

The case does a great job of protecting the phone from marks and stains. It is really easy to clean with a damp cloth, and keeps your phone safe from harm.

Rating

Mobile Fun’s own brand case is very competitively priced for what it offers: durable, well designed protection for the S4 Mini.

UPDATE: Having reviewed Tech21’s Impact Shield case I am downgrading this case from 4 star to 3 star.

I rate Mobile Fun’s S4 Mini FlexiShield case three star.Three Star

Next Week

In the next post in the series I will be reviewing Tech21’s Impact Shield case for the S4 Mini. See you then. 🙂

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Gadgets News Technology

Are bionic suits a thing of fantasy or the future?

This is Technology Bloggers 100th article!
Well done and thank you to our 16 fantastic writers who have made this possible. Also thanks to all our readers and commenters for your support.
Lets aim for 1,000 now!
🙂

So, to the article! Everyone has heard of Iron Man – well I would think they have. The idea that such a suit could become a reality, is well… fiction. Until now!

A technology company called Raytheon has developed an exoskeleton, designed to effectively act as a bionic/robotic suit. The suit is designed to perfectly mimic and aid human actions, so the wearer can feel normal whilst performing tasks that they could never achieve without the aid of the suit.


One way of thinking about how it feels is to think of the power steering in a car. Without the power steering it can be really tough to turn the wheel, activate the power steering however and the car still feels normal and responds in the same way, the difference is, minimal effort is required to do a rather demanding task.

Doing press-ups in a bionic suit with ease
Performing everyday tasks is easy when wearing a bionic exoskeleton!

The suite has the potential to be fitted with some sort of amour plating, to protect the individual form attack – assuming it were to be used in a war-zone, and not in industry! D3O could actually make it a pretty invincible suit!

The suite can help the wearer lift up to 17 times what they could normally life, making tasks 17 times easier! A massive positive is that it doesn’t restrict the wearers range of motion, meaning that they can more freely and normally.

There is a problem though. The suit has to be attached to an external power source, as it guzzles power like crazy. Current batteries are either too weak, or too dangerous. For example, lithium-ion batteries can’t be strapped to a human, as they are prone to explosion if they get damaged!

A lack of power makes the suit extremely heavy, meaning that every movement becomes more difficult. This means that if there is a loss of power, the suit is hindering, rather than helping the occupant.

Aside from the lack of power, the main difference between the suit Raytheon have developed and Tony Stark’s suit is that Tony Stark’s can fly. Stark’s suit is also loaded with flairs, missiles and weapons galore, and has Stark’s supercomputer Jarvis running the interface. Raytheon’s suit is still in the early stages though, and no doubt will soon catch up 😉

Four Iron Man Suits
Tony Stark’s collection of Iron Man suits

If you want to know more about this super cool invention read CNN’s article about it.